Should blogs remove the NoFollow attribute?

By Daniel Scocco

Most blogging platforms have the rel=’nofollow’ attribute inserted automatically on the comment section. The initial objective of this feature was to discourage spammers from posting comments just for the sake of a backlink.

Sometime ago, however, Wikipedia decided to insert the NoFollow attribute on all the external links, raising a lot of polemic around the subject. Loren Baker, editor of the Search Engine Journal, recently published an article titled “13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck“. Here are some of the points on his list:

1. NoFollow = NoWorky. Using NoFollow in blog comments, the original intent of the tag, does nothing to discourage comment spammers. Using other anti-spamming tools such as question, math and plugins such as Akismet and SpamKarma for WordPress is much more effective.

2. If a blogger moderates comments, there is no need for a NoFollow attribute. Everyone who passes a human inspection should get the link love.

5. Linking to someone with a NoFollow attribute is a sign of not trusting them. It’s like reaching to shake someone’s hand, but stopping to put on a pair of latex gloves.

6. No Follow sucks because the search engines (particularly Google) can’t make up their mind about when and how it should be used, thus causing confusion among inexperienced webmasters who do STUPID things like No Follow ALL outgoing links from their website to protect the site from page rank leakage” and other silly ideas.

Afterwards Ahmed Bilal published a counter-article titled “Defending NoFollow Against Angry SEOs“. Quoting the author:

NoFollow exists as the last line of defence for search engines to prevent non-editorial links from polluting the Google index. I expect Google to take care of it’s own index and make sure it is as spam free as possible. Wouldn’t you?

Anti-spam plugins prevent spammers from posting spam on our blogs. NoFollow prevents spammy comments from polluting the search engines. There’s an important distinction – Google’s responsibility is to guarantee the best possible results. When did fighting the world’s spam fall under their responsibilities?

Personally I think that both views are correct. While the NoFollow attribute has many drawbacks it also helps search engines to index sites more appropriately. As Bilal commented the use of NoFollow tags is not an ideal solution, because Google and the other search engines could improve their algorithm to filter spam comments straight way. Still we do not live on an ideal world, and some measures must be taken even if they are not the optimal.

That said I also think that some blogs would benefit by removing the NoFollow attribute from the links on the comment section. If you have a loyal readership that helps to improve your content through valuable discussions there is no reason why you should not share some link love with them.

One of my readers, Andrew Timberlake, created a plugin to solve that problem. It is called Link Love and it will remove the rel=”nofollow” attribute from comments where the commenter has commented 10 (the number is configurable) or more times. Thanks Andrew for creating the plugin.




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11 Responses to “Should blogs remove the NoFollow attribute?”

  • Bes Z

    I think that while the nofollow plugin ruins the ranking of spammers on search engines, it does little to combat spam itself. Adding a nofollow tag to any html code should be done outside through a plugin and not internally in a code in my opinion, as html is not meant to combat spam but to work with CSS to present something. Having some meta information to help search engines is fine, though I have seen many sites put a nofollow attribute on all links [like Wikipedia, as you explained above] which hurts people who are leaving good comments.

    Also, blogs should focus on blogs, not on things that search engines are supposed to do. I have yet to see any concrete study that shows that blogs using the nofollow attribute in their links have gotten less spam simply because of that.

    The plugin you listed is a nice one. There are a few other plugins floating around also that remove the nofollow attribute after a certain number of days have passed.

    This plugin and similar ones make sure that a link posted by someone is not spam. What these plugins do can also be done by moderating comments in the first place, unless someone is getting several hundred comments a day, in which case automated tools and plugins [like the Link love plugin] are need to try to get spamming links deindexed from search engines while going around one’s site to make sure the comments that have been already posted are legit.

    Here is a similar post that removes the nofollow index after a certain number of days or right away [found via Dougal Campbell’s site]:

    http://kimmo.suominen.com/sw/dofollow/

  • Daniel

    Bes I agree with you, people should not confuse the purpose of different languages and platforms.

    Also thanks for sharing that other plugin, I will check it out.

  • engtech

    Andy Beard has a list of all the dofollow/nofollow plugins here:
    http://andybeard.eu/2007/02/ultimate-list-of-dofollow-plugins-banish-nofollow-from-comments-and-trackbacks.html

  • inspirationbit

    There’s another plugin that I use on my blog to promote the Link love and encourage the comments: Top Commentator’s plugin, that displays a configurable number of Top commentators of the month/week/x_number_ofdays with the ‘dofollow’ links to their sites.

  • Philip Liu

    While initially it seemed like a good idea to me, now I’ve come around to thinking that it just hinders community participation. Automated programs can be stopped in other ways, as suggested, but a human commenter is willing to comment more if there is direct and immediate benefit to him/her.

  • Ajay

    I have DoFollow installed to remove that. I value the comments that I get and want to give back to my users by giving them search-engine credit for posting

  • jose314

    No hay ningun incentivo para publicar comentarios en un blog con nofollow

  • SEO

    yeah…
    wonder what happen if we all use nofollow on our websites? And how about DMOZ.org

    Have a good one.

  • AzGun

    Good and really useful post for all readers and specially for me, thanks!
    😉

  • Bang Kritikus

    how about do follow, why TLA wants do follow in a page

  • Daily Good Tips

    I use dofollow for my other blog. I hope readers will interest to comment in my blog and i give them high quality backlinks.

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